Fungal Construction

Doesn’t Bob the Builder seem like a fun-gi?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Wood, steel, concrete – SO last season! What’s the next ‘it’ construction material? 

Ross McBee from Columbia University and his teams bet on LIVING BRICKS!

They started with brick-shaped molds full of hemp waste. Then they added a VERY hungry fungus. As it consumed the waste, the fungus expanded and grew to fit the mold! 

Then the researchers got to work and built an arch out of the fungus blocks! Once in place, these living bricks naturally grow together. They even repair themselves if they get cracked!

The scientists also added two types of bacteria to the blocks. One sends out signals when the environment changes. The other lights up when the signals are received.Toxins in the water? No problem – the bricks will glow and let you know! 

The bioblocks aren’t as strong or durable as traditional construction materials. But they could be a fast-growing option in situations where resources are scarce. Like emergency housing for disaster relief!

I wonder how mush-room a living mansion would have… ?

McBee, R. M., Lucht, M., Mukhitov, N., Richardson, M., Srinivasan, T., Meng, D., Chen, H., Kaufman, A., Reitman, M., Munck, C., Schaak, D., Voigt, C., & Wang, H. H. (2021). Engineering living and regenerative fungal-bacterial biocomposite structures. Nature Materials.